Monday, March 21, 2011

so fresh and so green

It was a glorious day, and my husband and I were out in the yard raking leaves. My life is glamorous, yes? Also, I do not enjoy raking leaves, if anyone is keeping track. But as I was scrape, scrape, scraping the dried and dead leaves into larger piles, I couldn't help but think of a picture of grace. Of a fresh start. Our yard was brown and seemed utterly lifeless for months, but the harder we worked, the more green life shone through.

Once we got to this point, with the leaves piled high (and no doubt with creepy crawly things hiding inside), we stopped for the day. I could have, would have, quit forever, but my Yard Man said we had to come back tomorrow to clear the piles. I dramatically moan and say something about tomorrow being Sunday, forgoodnesssake. Can't we just leave the piles for a little while? But he says, if we leave the piles, the healthy grass beneath them will die. It will suffocate in the deadness covering it.

I tend to leave things almost fixed. Almost done. And not just in the yard. I can rake my junk - my hurt, my disappointment, my lack of integrity, my bitterness - into neat piles, but I tend to stop there. I tend to let them sit and rot.

I was nearly done grouching around when I started to see the green. I only looked up because a tiny tree branch grazed my head and I was certain it was a tarantula or butterfly coming to kill me. It was not. But when I looked up, this is what I saw.

Tiny leaves poking through a branch that, a few weeks ago, looked completely dead and dry. A few weeks ago, I couldn't see the beauty, but it was there inside. I feel like this tree and my grass, covered in deadness and remnants of seasons gone. Too often, I just let it sit there on top of me, always wondering why I can't breathe. Life at its fullest is so close. It's a garbage bag and a hard worker away.

Green leaves bursting with fresh color - that's what I want to look like. Not crumpled grass under crunchy leaves. It's a task easier said than done. Clearing the weight of my own deadness and hurt is work and isn't painless. But freedom comes after pain and thankfulness. So does joy.

So I will choose to be thankful - to confront my fears and hurt and disappointment and discontentment and choose thankfulness instead. My life is full if I just look up and look around, rather than burying myself in dead leaves and creepy crawlies. My "plan" is foiled, but my life is good and simple and can be happy if I let it be so.

Today, I'm thankful for the leaves that suffocate. They are the scars of lessons learned and life experienced. I'm thankful for the leaves, but I can't remain trapped under them. I won't. Life is waiting at the end of my hard work like a glass of ice water waiting to refresh a dry body.

‎'Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living.'
'Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.' One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp
'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!' 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, March 20, 2011

home improvement 2.0

Restless Life Syndrome has struck again. After redecorating most of my house a few months ago, my kitchen was looking neglected. Or maybe I was bored. In any case, my new project started out as painting one wall - as most of my projects begin. It evolved into a full-blown redecoration project and oven and fridge deep-cleaning session.

Someday, I will have an actual camera to take better photos. Unless we strike oil in my backyard or win the lottery before my husband finishes school, these phone shots will have to do for now! Here is the finished product. What do you think?

Yes, my kitchen is this small.
I started out by painting that back wall a chocolate brown color so my birds would pop out a little more. We're still getting used to the color. My new rug was $20 at Target, by the way. The birds were also $20 at Target. Most of my possessions come from Target for $20 or less.

After painting the wall, I went looking for wildflowers to display in my jar collection. (Side note: Does anyone else collect jars? I feel like it's really grandmotherly of me, but I'm on a glass jar kick. They make really great, quirky vases for short-stemmed flowers like these. Most of mine are old salsa, spaghetti sauce or peanut butter jars.) 

I found some lavender bunches and paired them with some (fake) flowers to make several mini arrangements. It smells faintly of lavender in the room now, which is an incredibly calming scent. The kitchen happens to be an epicenter of anxiety for me and my bad cooking skills (that was bad, not mad), so I'm thrilled. My kitchen feels more natural, although most of what I prepare is made out of butter or peanut butter. 

These dish towels? $3 for three at
Target, thankyouverymuch. 

This is the new centerpiece on my dining table.
$5 at Hobby Lobby, thankyouverymuch.

After I finished in the kitchen, I had some leftover lavender, so I added to the small arrangement I had in our bathroom as well. 

I think I have to be done decorating for now... I've run out of space! We're planning on reviving our planter box this spring, so you bet I will be showing photos of my efforts, and likely begging for help as well. This is what happens to plants at my house:

It took 6 days to crush their spirit.

This one didn't even try to live.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

little faces

My sister-in-law had her second baby boy this week! I could not be happier. She was three days beyond her due date - and, frankly, I was getting impatient. Fortunately, he called me up to Skype a few hours after he made his appearance, and we chatted for a bit. He is pink, squishy perfection. I can't wait to learn his personality and quirks and especially to kiss his chubby cheeks. If his big brother is any indication, they will be chubby.

All the waiting got me thinking about my other nieces and nephews and how much I completely adore them. It doesn't even make sense how much I love them. It really doesn't. There are few things in this world that make me happier than seeing their little faces and hearing their squeaky voices.

I get "the question" a lot. You know, the one that everyone asks couples who have been married for five minutes - or almost four years, in my case. "When are you having kids?" I never know what to say. I'm so excited to have kids. Someday. I'm not in a hurry, though. I was in a hurry to get married and rushed through some of my single years. I don't want to rush through the years I have with my man because I'm in a hurry to have kids. (Note: I'm not suggesting that people who have kids quickly after getting married are "rushing" into anything. I'm only talking about me and my family here. Please, go forth an multiply at your own pace.)

If I didn't have these five sweet, sweet munchkins already in my life, I'm sure it would make waiting for kids a lot harder. I need kids in my life. There is something so very centering and simple about their little hearts and minds that puts things into perspective. Plus, they demand that life will be fun. That's basically the sole purpose of their days at this point, and I think I can learn from that mentality. It's only when I'm with them that I make funny faces and run around for no reason and lay on the floor. What a shame. And what a gift to have a reminder that the way I go about my day often doesn't make any sense to a carefree kid. I'm not going to quit my job and eat Fruit Loops for a living, but I can certainly learn from their perspective.

I'm honestly a little afraid of having my own children. If I can love someone else's child this much, I'm in big trouble when it comes to my own. Yikes. But look at their faces. I mean, really. How could you not want to give them the whole world in a Dora the Explorer backpack?

I could spend all of my days making her laugh
and staring at her huge Disney princess eyes.

This child is so sweet and sensitive. I
want to snuggle with her. All. The. Time.

They never hesitate to wear the weird hats
aunt Michelle buys them...

This kid is snuggly and wild and such a boy. I don't
know about him, but I am NOT ready for Kindergarten.

And this one's smile... Be still my heart. I've never been
so desperate to see a kid's smile. It's like cocaine.

My sister- and brother-in-law and
their brand new baby boy. (Cheeks!)

I just love these little faces.